Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch £699
7th May 2013 | 08:30
The total Ultrabook package?
The Series 5 Ultra Touch is a suggestively-named plan by Samsung to deliver a kind of "all things to all people" Ultrabook.
A first glance at its spec list will leave you thinking that it's got just about everything you could want, but like so many all-rounders, it overstretched itself a little.
The core is all great stuff, though. As an Ultrabook, it's thin and light. The 13.3-inch screen is multi-touch, so you can browse Windows 8 and play touch games with it. The 500GB hard drive offers plenty of storage space, while the 24GB SSD enables it to boot quickly.
The Intel Core i3 processor and 6GB of RAM give enough headroom to run demanding apps and there's a good array of connections, including a USB 3.0 port and Ethernet socket. On paper, the Series 5 Ultra Touch is the complete Windows 8 laptop package.
But the more we used it, the more it started to feel like a package that had been put together a little hastily. It looks fairly standard for Samsung, with a good fit and finish to the laptop for its price, but we noticed a slightly more flexibility in the lid than we're comfortable with - not a problem at all in use, but we'd worry about it getting damaged in a densely packed bag.
Similarly, the keyboard is very nearly perfect, with an excellent layout and a nice amount of travel to the keys, but it feels a little dead, lacking the spring of the best keyboards.
The trackpad, on the other hand, is pretty much flawless - a great size and perfectly responsive.
Good, but not perfect
In terms of performance, we again find ourselves returning to theme of the Series 5 being very good, but not perfect. Despite having a small, fast solid-state drive for Windows and a strong processor, it sometimes just didn't feel quite as snappy as other Ultrabooks we've tested, including when it came out of standby.
This wasn't just our subjective perception, though: when we ran performance benchmarks, it scored lower than other laptops using the same CPU. Its use of a spinning hard drive for file storage means that it's also noticeably slower to browse the contents of your laptop than on one with all-SSD storage, but you get more storage for your money as a result, so it's a fair trade-off.
The 1,366 x 768 screen resolution is pretty standard for laptops of this size, and though the resolution means that some text and images can look a little blocky, the screen is generally very good. It's more than bright enough, with vibrant colours, and it holds up well at awkward viewing angles.
The touchscreen elements also work really well. It's responsive, and though it picks up fingerprints, they hardly show at all.
The only area where the Ultra Touch properly stumbles is battery life. We found it to be far below what we'd hope for from a machine like this. Many Ultrabooks can give a good workday's worth of battery life, but you'll get much less than that here. It'll be fine for home use, say watching a film or a few TV shows in a go, but those with more demanding requirements will find it inadequate.
The Series 5 Ultra Touch feels like it could be a world-class laptop a lot of the time, but the rough edges mean that it ultimately falls short. It's still a solid option for home use, but it's not the one Ultrabook to rule them all that it could've been.